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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Teva Itunda Sandals > Test Report by Derek Hansen
Teva - Itunda Sandals
Test Series by Derek Hansen
7 Apr 2010
The Teva® ("teh-vah," not "tee-vah"), Hebrew for "nature") Itunda sandals (hereafter Itunda or sandals) are listed as a “sandal-shoe hybrid” that is “great on the trail, but made for the water.” The sandals have a solid formed design with drain channels that run the length of the footbed, and includes four drain holes in the heel. The toe box is enclosed and has a hard rubberized area to protect the toes.
The sandals have a seamless upper mesh with two adjustable points: one across the bridge of the foot near the ankle, and one across the toe area. The bridge/ankle attachment is not only adjustable, but it has a plastic clip, which makes it easier to get the sandal off and on.
The heel is one solid piece and is not adjustable. Wrapping up from the bottom of the sandals, on both sides, are some hard plastic reinforcements, called a "TPU shank" by the manufacturer. These side supports add additional stiffness to the sandals.
The sole includes a “ShocPad” on the heel and the bottom is marked with “Spider Rubber” — a high-gripping rubber.
I fell in love with these sandals soon after opening the shipping box. These sandals are, in a word, sexy. Is that an appropriate adjective? Well, it didn’t take my wife long to fall in love with them too, and she is already demanding I get her a pair — all before I even tried them on!
The sandals fit perfectly, with plenty of space in the toe box and a smooth feel with and without socks. I spent the afternoon walking around the house and yard in the sandals to get a feel for the fit. The soles are very stiff, which I think should be great for hiking and scrambling. I have a lot of small rocks and pebbles in my yard and I couldn’t feel them at all while walking around with these sandals.
I’ve owned pairs of Teva sandals in the past, and many have an additional adjustment point on the heel strap. The Itunda sandals do not have a heel adjustment strap, but I found the fit perfect with only the two adjustments available to me. The buckle strap is easy to unclip, and once detached, it is easy to slip out of the sandals. There is a loop in the upper where the buckle can thread to attach the seamless upper with the bridge/ankle attachment.
After a few hours walking around the house with socks in the sandals, my feet perspired and I noticed trace moisture on the footbed.
April 3 ~ Campbell Mesa, Coconino National Forest. I took all my kids (ages 2 to 8) out on the mesa near our home for some geocaching. We hiked just about 2 mi (~3 km) at an elevation of 7000 ft (2133 m). It was a sunny day with an outside temperature around 45 F (7 C).
We bushwhacked up the mesa to the trail, scrambling over rocks and bramble to reach the trail. I didn't wear any socks in the sandals and I quickly collected small debris in the shoes. Once the discomfort got annoying, I easily unclipped the sandals to clear the debris and continued hiking. I did this about four times during the hike.
I was really grateful for the enclosed toe box as I brushed up against rocks and debris. The enclosed toe box was a nice security measure. One thing that did pique my curiosity was that my feet did collect some moisture on the bottom. I noticed this more when I finally arrived home and wore the sandals, without socks, around the house. I could really tell perspiration was building up on the footbed, presumably because the molded plastic sole.
The other thing I noticed that worries me a little is that my big toe on my left foot began rubbing against the toe box. This was a pretty short hike so I didn't get any blisters or raw spots, but I'm going to keep an eye out for hot spots where my skin may rub in the sandals. I'm really looking forward to taking these sandals on wet hikes, and I want to make sure I don't develop blisters.
Again, the sole was thick and stiff enough to really support hiking. I didn't really notice any irritation as I walked over pebbles and small rocks.
PRO—Great fit. Good room in the toe box. Enclosed toe box. Stiff, durable sole with shock absorption.
CON—Although this is a very breathable sandal, the bottom of my feet still collected perspiration from the non-breathable footbed.
22 Jun 2010
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have used the sandals almost daily around the house and on multiple day hikes. I've also completed 3 overnight backpacking trips totaling 19 miles (31 km). All of the trips were in northern Arizona, at a mean elevation of 7000 ft (2133 m). The low temperature was 33 F (1 C) and the highest daytime temperature was 80 F (27 C). Most of the terrain was rocky, single track trails, some near meandering streams.
Here are few highlighted trips:
May 14-15 ~ Pumphouse Wash, Coconino National Forest. After overnighting in a hammock, my boys and I hiked down the canyon, crossing the creek several times until it opened up into a huge basin filled with water.
May 28-29 ~ Sycamore Rim Trail, Kiabab National Forest. After taking my sons on consecutive overnight trips, I needed to take my daughter, age 8, to make it fair. We backpacked near the Sycamore Creek and hammock camped. We also hiked KA Hill, elevation 7287 ft (2221 m), an elevation change of 1017 ft (310 m) from our camping spot..
June 5 ~ Old Caves Crater, Coconino National Forest. I took all my kids (ages 2 to 8) out on the cinder mountain near our home for some hiking and geocaching. We hiked over 3 mi (~5 km) to the summit at an elevation of 7183 ft (2189 m), an elevation change of 583 ft (178 m). The trails were easy, with several long sections of sand and cinders.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The first thing I want to get on the table quickly is the admission that these are sandals. It should come as no surprise that my feet got dirty, the sandals collected debris, and my feet got chilly at times. The good news is that compared to my open-toe Teva-brand sandals, the Itunda sandals were warmer, far superior to keeping out dust and dirt, and protecting from cuts and scrapes.
One of my favorite features of the Itunda is the protected closed toe. The foot box did extremely well at protecting my toes and keeping a fair amount of debris out of my shoes. During this test period, I made several day-hike trips up Old Caves Crater, a cinder mountain near my home. Most of the trail is sand and cinders and can be a pain to hike in, no matter what footwear you prefer. Hiking in open-toe sandals, I would have scooped up cinders by the bushel. The Itunda sandals were far superior, but, yes, I did get a fair share of pebbles.
When sand and debris do enter the sandals, especially when it gets into the toe area, it stays. The only way to clear out the debris is to remove the sandals and shake them out. On hiking trails and backpacking trips, this was often annoying, and I would endure the pain as long as possible so I wouldn’t have to stop. Thankfully, unclipping the sandals is a one-hand operation, so I learned to perch on one leg to clear a sandal and switch to get debris-free.
The drainage holes in the heels often get clogged up with tiny pebbles. Some of the larger ones I am able to fish out, but some of the holes are filled and it would take some doing to get out the debris. I’ve noticed some drainage in the heel, so I presume it is working. The rocks inside the drainage holes are deep enough in that I cannot feel them when walking.
Most all the trails in northern Arizona are littered with ragged lava rock, which at times is rough and unforgiving. The sandals have taken a beating, and look a little worn since I first received them. There is obvious flaking on the painted sole area, and portions of sole are roughed up. The wear is still excellent and the straps and fabric are holding up fine.
On my trip to Pumphouse Wash, we hiked along the creek bed until we had to make a major crossing. I had to carry my two young sons across the river. The rubber gripped the stones well enough that I was able to cross with confidence, but this was the first trip where I noticed the arch strap getting loose. This was my first major water trek and I noticed I had to tighten the strap often to keep them snug.
With the sandals wet, the front toe strap loosened too, so for the first time I had to adjust the toe strap. Once the sandals dried, I had to loosen the toe strap to get a comfortable fit.
Since that first water hike, I’ve noticed the arch strap getting loose on every subsequent hike, whether in water or on dry trails. While annoying, re-adjusting the arch strap is a one-handed operation that I was able to do standing up, even while balancing a loaded backpack.
For the most part, the rubber soles have done a fine job gripping on wet stones. However, while on my trip down the Pumphouse, I had a hard time gripping the smooth, wet, black lava rock. These rocks had been worn surprisingly smooth over time and the wet surface was slippery. I still maintained my balance and bearing, but with the right pressure, I would slip slightly.
Socks or No Socks?
I’ve worn the sandals with and without socks and I must say that I like wearing socks with the sandals; they provide an extra level of comfort, help minimize debris, and have kept my feet warm on cool mornings. For the most part, I preferred to hike without socks, especially when the temperature rose.
The sandals have been roomy enough to not only accommodate socks, but also give my toes enough wiggle room during long, hot hikes. I’ve even gone trail running with these sandals and been fine. I’ve experienced no hot spots or blistering. I've had ample room when pounding down steep slopes that my toes did not impact or touch the front of the sandal.
My feet do sweat in these sandals when I don’t wear socks, and my feet can feel hot, but I’ve become used to the feel and it isn’t terrible for this type of sandal.
Some shoes suffer from “accordion toe” when bending the front of the shoe, which can cause pain and sometimes blistering, especially with frequent contact and pinching. The Itunda sandals do a fine job avoiding this problem and I felt fine bending, crouching, and squatting with the sandals. The fabric is light and stretchy.
FIELD USE SUMMARY
Overall, I really enjoy these sandals. While it is annoying that the straps loosen, I’ve found I can easily tighten them up again, even while carrying a loaded pack. The sandals have adequate grip on most wet surfaces I’ve attempted.
PRO—Great fit and adjustability; roomy foot box, protected toe area.
CON—The arch straps loosen during wear.
24 Aug 2010
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the long-term phase, I went on an additional 6 day hikes and 3 overnight backpacking trips totaling 36 extra miles (58 km).
Here are some highlighted trips:
July 1-3 ~ Fremont Indian State Park, central Utah. This was a car-camping family reunion in an amazing location. Most of us used hammocks to camp. During the day, I participated on a few day hikes with the pack. Elevation roughly 6000 ft (1829 m) and daytime temperatures in the high 80s F (27 C) with lots of wind.
July 16-17 ~ West Fork of Oak Creek, Coconino National Forest, Arizona. I convinced a co-worker to do an S24O trip (less than 24-hour trip) into the Oak Creek Wilderness area. Immediately after work, we drove down to the canyon and hiked up the creek about 4 miles (6 km) and hammocked in the canyon. The elevation was level at 5400 ft (1646 m) and the overnight low was in the mid-60s F (16 C). We were up by 4 AM and back on the trail and back to our car, passing folks just rising for the day.
Aug 7 ~ Cedar Breaks, Utah. A few day hikes with my wife. The elevation was over 10,000 ft (3000 m). We encountered a few sprinkles of rain (the tail end of a thunderstorm) and temperature of about 40 F (4 C).
Aug 13-14 ~ Fisher Point, Coconino National Forest, Arizona. Another S24O trip just outside Flagstaff. The 9-mile (14.5 km) trip took us through skunk canyon (6600 ft/2011 m) and up to the top of Fisher Point (7000 ft/2134 km). We pitched our hammocks on the edge of a cliff. Overnight low was 48 F (9 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I put in some good testing at the Fremont site. We went on a few day hikes to take in the many pictograms and native sites. The high desert was hot and dry with mostly rocky, dusty trails, but on one hike we crossed over the river. The river topography was amazingly hidden—surrounded by desert, this oasis rushes from the central Utah mountains and is choked with willows. The frigid water was refreshing and shocking.
I was so grateful to have worn these sandals at this location. The ventilation was welcome in the hot, dry climate — and when we crossed the river, I was the only one who didn’t have to worry about getting his feet wet.
Another wetter hike was my backpacking trip into the West Fork of Oak Creek, just south of Flagstaff, Arizona. This was my first trip up this canyon, but I hope to return again soon. The lush vegetation and humidity made me feel like I was back in Virginia. The level trail crosses the river many times and my feet were often wet. I hiked the last quarter mile in the river as we lost the trail. Canyoneering in these sandals was perfect. I can’t say that the traction is 100% solid on slick rock and moss, but it does a pretty good job of sticking to rocks.
When wet, the straps tend to loosen more often, but I’ve noticed the straps loosen when my ankle bends sharply, like when I’m hiking a steep portion of the trail. While the loose strap is mildly annoying, it hasn’t killed my appeal of the sandal as it has been really easy for me to tighten the strap while I’m hiking, with one hand.
My wife and I took a few hikes in Cedar Breaks, Utah. We got to the trail right after a nice thunderstorm passed through, getting everything wet and dropping the temperature considerably. I had to layer back up to stay warm, including adding thermals and some socks to the sandals. I eventually loaned my socks to my wife, who incidentally was wearing her Teva Itunda sandals too. While it was cool outside, the sandals did a great job keeping my feet warm as we hiked.
During a few hikes, and often in the morning when it is cool, I’ve worn socks with the sandals. With socks, I don’t notice the side buckle and strap getting loose at all and debris doesn’t bother me as much.
One thing I really, really enjoy about these sandals is the closed toe and fabric uppers. Normally, I can’t hike long miles in sandals, especially backpacking trips. Add water to the mix and I often get hot spots and blisters. Not so with the Itunda. I’ve found that I have no areas that rub raw; the enclosed toe protects my toes from getting stubbed or stabbed from debris; and the material and open areas provide a great mix of warmth and ventilation.
The soles have really performed well in protecting my feet from rocks along the trail. They are firm and I’ve found the cushioning just right for miles and miles of hiking with a backpack.
These sandals are a winner. I’ve had no misgivings about taking them on backpacking trips as my only footwear, including trips with lots of water. The enclosed toe and fabric upper are really the combination that makes these sandals part of my permanent backpacking kit.
The only real issue is when the strap loosens when they get wet or when my ankle pushes on an incline.
PRO—Great protection from rocks and debris. Comfortable.
CON—Straps loosen when wet.
30 Jun 2011
In mid-May, 2011, I felt a “pop” on the back of the right foot sandal and noticed that the heel strap was beginning to tear. The rip began on the stitching next to the “TEVA” label on the heel. I was curious as to why this sandal was having a failure within a year of use. I noticed that I put a lot of pressure on those heel straps when I kneel down.
I really like the Itunda sandals, so I was disappointed that the heel strap finally tore completely through after a day or two after the initial rip. I contacted Teva for a new pair and within a few weeks I received a new pair.
Inside the shoe box was a small plastic bag containing four O-rings and an instruction sheet. The O-rings are labeled as an “accessory” to fix the slippage on the bridge strap. The instructions included simple photos showing how I would slip an O-ring over the end of the strap’s standing end. Since the new sandals already had O-rings attached, the package includes extras.
I’m pleased to report that the O-rings are effective in stopping the straps from slipping! It is a great addition and “accessory” for the Itunda sandals.
I would like to thank Teva and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.
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